LAMA – In Tibetan Buddhism, a monk.
LEADERSHIP IN MEDITATION – (See also “Leading by Use of Meditation.”)
If you plan on leading people in meditation, you may want to follow a few simple guidelines. Such guidelines don’t apply if you are simply lecturing on meditation or leading a group discussion on it. If you are, instead, actually guiding people in the practice of meditation, then remember that you are dealing with what, for some of them, may be highly personal feelings. The following guidelines might help:
Plan what you will do ahead of time.
Take people no further in exploring meditation techniques than you, yourself, have well experienced, and with which you are very comfortable.
Be clear to people what the limits are for what you will do with them.
Explain ahead of time what you plan to do.
Ask them if they have questions. And be willing to change what you have them practice if it might help answer their questions.
Be willing to talk with people afterward in case they have a particular problem.
If you do wish to help them with any given meditation by focusing, yourself, inside or near the outside of an individual (or several of them), receive clear permission, first. Otherwise, many may perceive what you are doing as a personal invasion of their privacy, space, and person.
gentle, kind, and firm.
LEADING BY USE OF MEDITATION – (See also “Groups and Meditation,” "Leading Meditation Sessions," “Paired Meditation,” “Public Meditation.” Also see “Art,” Chakras,” “Chanting,” “Prayer,” “Religion,” and “Ritual.”)
If you are a leader, leading small or large groups, or speaking to large groups, it is possible to meditate on your group in such a way that you can improve your own functioning as a leader.
Leading group meditations does not mean that everyone in the group must be meditating. And it can be done in ways that are nonintrusive. You measure your success simply by what works in making your interaction with the group–or even the entire group’s interaction–better. You also can use all of these methods when you are part of a group that you are not leading.
First, you can simply, as you talk or otherwise lead, go to a point within yourself, or start a meditation within yourself with which you are comfortable. You may try it for just a few seconds at first, to see how it feels, then extend the amount of time to minutes or longer. You might want to try this with different points than you usually use when you are alone, as you may find other points of focus more useful–or easier–when meditating as you lead a group.
Another way of meditating when leading a group is a “Top-of-the-head Energy Center.” Choose a focus point that is slightly above everyone’s head, one which also is in the approximate center of the group (including you). Focus on that high point. If this works, you may find that you can speak and act more easily with the group, and that you may also better anticipate what others will say or do.
A third method is to use the same method as above, but do so by focusing on a lower point in the middle of everyone. If you want to try this with the “’Third-eye’ Energy Center,” then choose an approximate middle point among the group (including you). You may do the same with the “Throat Energy Center” and the “Love Energy Center.” You may want to try all of these top four energy centers to see which works for you best in leading the group, what the effects are on your group, and even what kind of chain meditation (see) you can use for different group activities.
that you are centering your focus on a middle point in the entire group.
You should not focus inside of a person or on the outside of the body of
one person, as this would be intrusive and, therefore, unethical in most
cultures. If you are a master leading a meditation class, and you have the
permission of people to focus in one (or several) of their personal
energy-center spaces, then you may do so (see “Paired Meditation”).
LEARNING – (See also "Breathing," "Visualizing," "Above-the-head Energy Center," "Third-Eye Energy Center," "Throat Energy Center," and "Heart Energy Center.")
Learning, as in academic/school learning or even learning in general, can be helped through meditation. Learning is a process of absorbing knowledge. It is not just memorizing alone (though this sometimes is an important part of it) nor analyzing alone (though this sometimes is an important part of it). Rather, learning means seeing something from someone else's point of view–from a viewpoint or a body of knowledge that is not your own.
For example, when you are learning by listening to a lecture or watching a video, you are learning from a teacher or video maker. When you are reading a textbook, you are learning from the person(s) who wrote the textbook. Meditation can help you better learn the teacher's point of view and knowledge. Here are several different methods to try:
Eat, exercise, and drink liquids before studying, lectures, and educational videos as if you were preparing for a half hour, a half day, or a day of meditation. This clears your brain, making it less distracted by bodily needs, cloudiness, or discomforts.
Bring to your learning an attitude of loving openness.
To accomplish this, it may help you to concentrate on one of your four
major "top" energy centers: the above the head, third eye, throat, or
heart energy center. Another way of accomplishing this attitude is to use
creative visualization, imagining yourself enjoying the subject or
imagining interesting images about the subject.
A third way of maintaining loving openness is to simply get rid of all negative thoughts and feelings about the subject–or about anything else in your life–before your learning event (see the "'No' Meditation"). Some people also discover that vigorous exercise, such as walking or running, helps in the same way before a learning event.
Choose a posture that is relaxed but alert. Use posture or a choice of seating as a way to make yourself more attentive. As you are listening, reading, or watching, breathe deeply and regularly as if you are meditating. This oxygenates your brain, making your brain and your senses better able to work.
Meditate upon the teacher as he or she talks. If you are reading a textbook, try to imagine the teacher, even look him or her up online and meditate upon her picture or recorded words. Who is this person? What tones and emphases in words and phrases does she use?
Write down key words and/or copy key images. Meditate on them by concentrating on them quietly, repeating their sound (or looking and then re-looking at the image) twelve times. As you repeat them in your concentrated, focused meditation, ask yourself with each meditation, "What could this mean?"
Use a meditative approach, mindfully and thoughtfully, to pursue what you don't know. Whenever there is an important word or image you do not understand, use a "study-method" meditation: find it online and figure out what it means. If you do not understand a key word or image, you cannot understand other ideas or images in which it appears.
Use meditation to remember. Focus on the flow of ideas or details in a paragraph by letting your eyes scan over the beginning and end of each paragraph, remembering important ideas or details as you scan. You may need to scan in this way several times.
Talk with others about what you have learned (and what you don't yet understand), using a meditative approach. This means not just speaking and listening, but doing so in a relaxed but alert meditative way, perceiving the flow of ideas or details, being aware of where the flow is interrupted for you because you don't understand it, and having a mindful conversation that includes what you know and what you don't.
LECTIO DIVINA – (See also "Scripture," "Centering Prayer," "Middle Path," and "Throat Chakra.")
"Lectio divina" is Latin for "divine lecture" or, more specifically, "listening to or reading scripture for its divine meanings." It is a specific method or system for ever more deeply understanding scripture. Though developed in medieval times and primarily by Christian Catholic monks and still in use by them today, you may use the method for scripture from any religion. This method is not a simple reading of or listening to scripture, nor just a close or careful reading for word meaning or historical understanding. This method requires more.
Good examples of lectio divina are the images of monks in religious orders that we have. They may include medieval Jewish interpreters reading the Torah repeatedly for all possible meanings, Christian fathers and nuns pouring over the Old and New Testaments, Muslim imams examining ever more deeply the words of Mohammed in the Koran, and Buddhist and Hindu educated holy ones concentrating on what their ancient spiritual texts might be trying to tell them.
In the early middle (medieval) ages and the period right after them as monasteries were established throughout Europe and elsewhere, monks of those times took their scriptural readings quite seriously. They were looking for much more than historical or ethical guidelines. They wanted their readings of scripture to be a meditation experience. They developed a system in which you can read scripture at four levels, called the "four senses of scripture," starting with the early levels and moving slowly and deeply into the later levels:
Read/listen for historical meaning. You simply read for the stories and facts, and try to put those into practice.
Read/listen for the moral or ethical meaning. You try to put into practice what the passages say or strongly suggest is the good or caring way to do things.
Read/listen for the allegorical meaning--how is it about you? What is in the scriptures you are reading that are not just giving you recipes for right living, but are about you, yourself. What stories and people describe problems you've successfully conquered, what ones with problems you are working on now, and what with problems your friends have experienced?
Read/listen for the self-expression meaning--how does it say what you think and feel? In this fourth and final level, sometimes called the "unitive" or "anagogic," you feel like a scripture expressing exactly what you would say, possibly even how you would say it, if you had the words.
If you enjoy reading scripture of any religion and you wish to take your
reading to a higher, deeper, more meditative level, you may try this
method. If you engage in it often, you may want to read more about it by
looking it up online, either as its own phrase, or as part of the
Centering Prayer (see) movement.
LEGS – See “Posture.”
LEVITATION – See “Gifts.”
WATERS – See “Waters of Life.”
LIGHT – (See also "Awakening Experience," "Above-the-Head Energy Center," "Third-Eye Energy Center," “Born Again," and "Colors.”)
Light, especially white light, often is an early or beginning experience in meditation. Sometimes the light may be gold, sometimes of other colors, but those who experience an inner bright light and describe the experience as in some way transformative, cleansing, or deeply energizing usually have had a significant meditation experience. Such light is not the normal light, white or otherwise, that comes from external sources, even the sun. Rather, it is a purely internal light that is accompanied by a very different feeling or awareness than what is normal for the person.
Examples especially include people who have a first inner experience of a light seeming to come from above, or into the tops of their heads; those who may have a sudden explosion of meaningful light focused on or close to the center of their heads between their eyebrows; and those who see and feel a bright, warm white or yellow light in the region of their chest or heart.
If you are meditating and experience this, one method of using this experience is to recall it and try to find again the brightness, quality of light, and feeling the light gave you when you first experienced it. Another method is to repeat the type of meditation you were practicing when you saw the light.
However, even while doing either of these might be very helpful to you in
developing your meditation practice, also be aware that not every
meditation experience is replicable easily or quickly. Sometimes in
meditation you may suddenly go far beyond what you have experienced,
suddenly and/or intensely, but this may happen for a number of reasons,
such as the perfect moment, perfect body energy, perfect place or even
person you are with; returning to that sudden excelling experience on a
regular basis may take more meditation practice.
WATERS – See “Waters of Life.”
– See “Above-the-head Energy Center” and “Chakras.”
– See “Base-of-the-trunk Energy Center,” “Health Energy Center,” and
“Solar Plexus Energy Center.” Also see “Depression,” “Emotion,” “Pain,”
See “Heart Energy Center.” Also see “Chakras.”
LUST – (See also “Pleasure and Meditation.” Also see “Middle Path,” Pain,” and “Sex and Meditation.”)
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Most recent content revision 26 Sept. 2019
Text © 2017-2020 by Richard Jewell
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First edition: 1 Sept. 2018. Second edition: 1 Sept. 2019. Free Use Policy
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